Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: November 2009


Climaquiddick Expands – New Zealand Data Questioned

Anthony Watts has the story.

The New Zealand Government’s chief climate advisory unit NIWA is under fire for allegedly massaging raw climate data to show a global warming trend that wasn’t there.

The scandal breaks as fears grow worldwide that corruption of climate science is not confined to just Britain’s CRU climate research centre.

The charts explain it quite well. Here’s the NIWA chart:

NZchart1

Notice the relentless rise in temperature depicted on the chart.

Now, here’s the raw data from the temperature stations:

NZchart2

As Watts points out:

Gone is the relentless rising temperature trend, and instead there appears to have been a much smaller growth in warming, consistent with the warming up of the planet after the end of the Little Ice Age in 1850.

The revelations are published today in a news alert from The Climate Science Coalition of NZ:

Straight away you can see there’s no slope—either up or down. The temperatures are remarkably constant way back to the 1850s. Of course, the temperature still varies from year to year, but the trend stays level—statistically insignificant at 0.06°C per century since 1850.

Got that? 0.06°C per century since 1850?! Absolutely statistically insignificant (especially given that 1850 signaled the end of the Little Ice Age) and certainly nothing which supports the dire prediction of the Chicken Little crowd.

Read the entire Watts article. And for some additional reading, try this piece at American Thinker about the programing problems at the University of East Anglica’s CRU. I understood about half (not being a programmer) but it certainly made me understand that there were serious problems with their calculations.

As an aside, I’m going with the “quiddick” suffix vs. the “-gate”. As CR mentioned, “-gate” refers to a story the media will relentlessly pursue while “quiddick” refers to a story the media will do its level best to ignore. I think, given the current “coverage” that it is obvious “quiddick” is more applicable – although I do like another suggestion about a name for the whole AGW movement – “Global Whoring”. Fits.

~McQ


Libertarian and Liberal Thanksgivings

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Usually I try to keep this day as a non-partisan, non-political day in which I wish everyone of every ideological persuasion the blessings of the day (and I still do!). But as it happens, the day provided me with one of the best examples of the differences between libertarians and liberals I’ve seen in a while. Two separate postings concerning Thanksgiving. One from a liberal blogger, Ezra Klein, and one from a blogger who is a visitor at the American Enterprise Institute (Mark Perry).

Klein reprints a food section column (one assumes he does so approvingly) all about controlling behavior:

I asked Ariely how he would set up his Thanksgiving feast to limit overeating without having to exercise self-control. His answer was to construct the “architecture” of the meal beforehand. Create conditions that guide people toward good choices, or even use their irrationality to your benefit.

“Move to chopsticks!” he exclaimed, making bites smaller and harder to take. If the chopsticks are a bit extreme, smaller plates and utensils might work the same way. Study after study shows that people eat more when they have more in front of them. It’s one of our predictable irrationalities: We judge portions by how much is left rather than how full we feel. Smaller portions lead us to eat less, even if we can refill the plate.

There it is in a nutshell – the liberal propensity toward trying to control the behavior of others. The writer decides it is his or her job to make it more difficult for you to “overeat”. Instead of just deciding to put on a great feast in keeping with the day and butt out of the affairs of others, the writer approvingly decides it is incumbent upon the server to construct an “architecture” to control the eating of others. Really – “move to chopsticks”! Or put the mashed potatoes in the kitchen!

Speaking of which, Ariely suggests placing the food “far away.” In this case, serve from the kitchen rather than the table. If people have to get up to add another scoop of mashed potatoes, they’re less likely to take their fifth serving than if they simply have to reach in front of them.

Some people can just suck the joy out of an occasion, I swear. But this seems perfectly in keeping with my observations of the more liberal among us.

On the other hand, Mark Perry decided on focusing on a completely different thing for the day – a celebration of a miracle that occurs daily all over the world that is rarely acknowledged. Thanksgiving provides the perfect day to note it:

Like in previous years, you probably didn’t call your local supermarket ahead of time and order your Thanksgiving turkey this year. Why not? Because you automatically assumed that a turkey would be there when you showed up, and it probably was there when you showed up “unannounced” at the grocery store to select your bird.

The reason your Thanksgiving turkey was waiting for you without an advance order? Because of “spontaneous order,” “self-interest,” and the “invisible hand” of the free market – “the mysterious power that leads innumerable people, each working for his own gain, to promote ends that benefit many.” And even if your turkey appeared in your local grocery stores only because of the “selfishness” or “corporate greed” of thousands of turkey farmers, truckers, and supermarket owners who are complete strangers to you and your family, it’s still part of the miracle of the marketplace where “individually selfish decisions lead to collectively efficient outcomes.”

Thanksgiving is epitomized by the process Perry describes. Our holiday is indeed as much a miracle of the market as anything. It enables everyone who wants too to have what they need or desire for that day – and every day. It is truly something to celebrate.

Free markets. Free people.

Happy Thanksgiving.

~McQ


The Significance Of The Growing Climate Scandal

Whether you prefer “Climategate” or “Warmaquiddick” or “Climaquiddick” (most seem to prefer something with “quiddick” v.  “gate” for some reason) as a name for the developing scientific scandal, the fact is that the emails revealed this week from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit are significant and damning.

Why are they significant?

The leaked documents (see our previous coverage) come from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in eastern England. In global warming circles, the CRU wields outsize influence: it claims the world’s largest temperature data set, and its work and mathematical models were incorporated into the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report. That report, in turn, is what the Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged it “relies on most heavily” when concluding that carbon dioxide emissions endanger public health and should be regulated.

To me that’s more than enough reason to step back, call a halt to all this talk about global treaties and take a good hard look at the science involved in all of this. What should be obvious to everyone is that more than enough questions have emerged over the past year to seriously question the conclusions reached by the CRU.

This data is the source of the EPA’s decision to regulate CO2. The fact that the data may be false or fudged then throws into question not only the conclusions of the IPCC’s report, but the EPA’s decision. If, in fact, they indicate scientific fraud as they seem too, then it also calls into question any other science or decisions made based on their conclusions. We’re literally talking about trillions of dollars hanging in the balance and a massive shift in government power (through regulation and taxation) and intrusion in our lives.

Yet, despite the fact that this story has been circulating for at least a week, some media outlets have declined to pursue it and have done the journalistic equivalent of yelling “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” by publishing editorials and articles which talk about the threat of global warming. Thankfully their readers, in some cases unmercifully, clue them in. The Washington Post, one of the few media outlets to even acknowledge the scandal, essentially blows it off in an editorial ironically entitled “Climate of Denial”, preferring to pretend that there’s really nothing of significance to the emails except perhaps, the CRU should have been a little more transparant than they were. It also refers to the emails as “stolen”.

In fact, it appears that the revelation of the emails may have been the work of a whistleblower, who, unlike WaPo, saw the real significance of what was being concealed:

It’s not clear how the files were leaked. One theory says that a malicious hacker slipped into East Anglia’s network and snatched thousands of documents. Another says that the files had already been assembled in response to a Freedom of Information request and, immediately after it was denied, a whistleblower decided to disclose them. (Lending credence to that theory is the fact that no personal e-mail messages unrelated to climate change appear to have been leaked.)

Interestingly the media exception to that is Declan McCullagh at CBS’s blog “Taking Liberties”. He does a pretty good and indepth job of looking at it all. I’ve linked ot his piece above (about the significance of the scandal). Make sure you read the emails concerning the programing and the data base. If that alone doesn’t set off alarm bells and tell you that what CRU produced might have some very serious problems, I’m not sure what will. Also read Phil Jones attempt to explain away the “hiding the decline” comment in one of his emails as meaning something colloquial which, of course, he claims doesn’t mean what in means otherwise. Very poor.

With all of that said, and ending with citing the Jones quote, I present for your entertainment, “Hiding The Decline”:

~McQ


So Where Are We On Health Care Reform?

That depends on who you talk too. Sen. Chuck Schumer says it will pass in the Senate. But then Schumer always says things will pass whether they do or not. Joe Lieberman says he’s going to be “stubborn” about his vote. If the bill has a public option, he won’t vote for it.  Harry Reid has said it will have some form of a public option, in the case of the pending bill a public option which states can opt out of.  With Liberman saying no, is there any doubt the focus will shift to a certain Republican Senator from Maine?  And, of course, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-LA, is in the middle of being ” bought” with hundreds of millions of your tax dollars promised in the “health care reform” bill if she’ll just sign on and help it pass.  They call that “payola” in the broadcasting business and it is illegal.

In the United States Senate, it’s business as usual.

Probably the most interesting take on the Senate right now comes from Howard Dean who says he sees trouble for Democrats regardless of the outcome:

“I think if you passed the Senate bill tomorrow it would be OK. But then the problem is they don’t have any defense for their members in 2010,” Dean said, noting that the public option would not become operational until 2014. “On the other hand, if they drop the public option [to placate moderate members], I think they lose seats.”

“So this is really tough. I didn’t anticipate being in this position. I thought it would pass. Maybe Harry has some magic up his sleeve. But I don’t see how he gets those four votes [Sens. Joseph Lieberman (Conn.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.)] without compromising the bill,” Dean concluded.

The former Vermont governor warned that if the party allowed the four moderates to further water down the bill (or defeat it altogether) it could lead to primary challenges or a drop in fundraising from the party’s base.

“If you have members refusing to vote for Reid on procedural issues you will have a revolt in the party,” Dean said. “What is the point of having a 60-vote margin? This is going to be death for the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and the [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee]. Why would anyone donate to them if they’re supporting candidates who defeat the Democratic agenda?”

And, of course, he has a “solution”:

There was, he insisted, an out clause. Reconciliation — the budgetary maneuver that would allow portions of reform to be considered by an up or down vote — “looks better every time,” Dean said. “Someone has to say, at some point, we need to pass a bill.” Reid has hinted that reconciliation is an increasingly unlikely proposition.

Nothing but lousy options. Damned if they do, double damned if they don’t. This is precisely the position I enjoy seeing Democrats in, especially as it concerns the monstrosity they’re trying to birth and call “health care reform”. I have to say, this is the one time in my life that I’m actively hoping for a still-birth. It will take all of the Senatorial GOP sticking to their guns, and one of four of the Democrats in question actually living up to their promises. The question is, are any or all of them willing to be known as the Senator(s) who killed health care reform. I know, given this mess, I’d wear that as a badge of honor. I’m still not sure these four would view it that way.

~McQ


The “Fiscal Conservatives Are Hypocrites” Canard

The blog Dissenting Justice entitles a post: “Why Aren’t Self-Proclaimed Fiscal Conservatives Questioning Afghanistan Troop Surge?”

The author then questions why “fiscal conservatives” are fighting tooth and nail to defeat this monstrosity of a health care bill but seem fine with spending billions if not trillions on the war in Afghanistan. He apparently finds that to be a hypocritical and contradictory position.

Really? Well since he lists himself as a professor of Constitutional Law, Critical Race Theory, Law and Social Change, and Equal Protection Theory at the American University, Washington College of Law, I’ll ask him where in the Constitution he finds the authorization for entitlement programs such as health care? As for defense appropriations and war fighting, even I can find authorization for them in the Constitution.

A second point – wars end. Entitlements don’t. Which do you suppose will cost more in the next 20, 30 or 40 years? Afghanistan or health care “reform”? I think everyone knows that answer.

Those alone seem to me to be two very good reasons fiscal hawks are neither hypocritical or contradictory in their stance.

~McQ


AGW Science Controvery Heats Up

At least in Europe.  And it is the only thing about this controversy that’s warming. One of the main warmist propagandists has been forced to concede that the revelation of the emails from within the CRU is a damning bit of evidence that things are not right (or ethical) with the results produced there:

It’s no use pretending this isn’t a major blow. The emails extracted by a hacker from the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia could scarcely be more damaging. I am now convinced that they are genuine, and I’m dismayed and deeply shaken by them. Yes, the messages were obtained illegally. Yes, all of us say things in emails that would be excruciating if made public. Yes, some of the comments have been taken out of context. But there are some messages that require no spin to make them look bad.

There appears to be evidence here of attempts to prevent scientific data from being released, and even to destroy material that was subject to a freedom of information request. Worse still, some of the emails suggest efforts to prevent the publication of work by climate sceptics, or to keep it out of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I believe that the head of the unit, Phil Jones, should now resign. Some of the data discussed in the emails should be re-analysed.

George Monboit then goes on to try to salvage the theory by downplaying the significance of the find. According to him, it’s only about three or four scientists and one or two lines of evidence out of hundreds. Of course “one line” of incorrect or fudged evidence is more than sufficient to crash a theory. In an article that can only be characterized as goal post shifting, Monboit claims skeptics would have to produce evidence of a much wider conspiracy to fudge or hide evidence before he’s willing to concede AGW is a scam. He writes a rather sarcastic faux email to demonstrate the level of evidence necessary as far as he’s concerned.

However, one has to recall that the CRU’s data was part of the basis for the UN’s IPCC report that is being used to move these absurd and costly climate change treaties, such as Copenhagen, forward. When even alarmists like Monboit are forced to concede the CRU emails are damaging, that provides more than a reason to stop this mad rush to do stupid and unnecessary things and, as he says, “re-analyse” the data. This time by real scientists, in the open and with all the data. One other thing Monboit and I agree on – Phil Jones should resign. Too bad he can’t take Al Gore with him.

Christopher Monckton, a leading warming skeptic, is mad:

The tiny, close-knit clique of climate scientists who invented and now drive the “global warming” fraud — for fraud is what we now know it to be — tampered with temperature data so assiduously that, on the recent admission of one of them, land temperatures since 1980 have risen twice as fast as ocean temperatures. One of the thousands of emails recently circulated by a whistleblower at the University of East Anglia, where one of the world’s four global-temperature datasets is compiled, reveals that data were altered so as to prevent a recent decline in temperature from showing in the record. In fact, there has been no statistically significant “global warming” for 15 years — and there has been rapid and significant cooling for nine years.

Worse, these arrogant fraudsters — for fraudsters are what we now know them to be — have refused, for years and years and years, to reveal their data and their computer program listings. Now we know why: As a revealing 15,000-line document from the computer division at the Climate Research Unit shows, the programs and data are a hopeless, tangled mess. In effect, the global temperature trends have simply been made up. Unfortunately, the British researchers have been acting closely in league with their U.S. counterparts who compile the other terrestrial temperature dataset — the GISS/NCDC dataset. That dataset too contains numerous biases intended artificially to inflate the natural warming of the 20th century.

Finally, these huckstering snake-oil salesmen and “global warming” profiteers — for that is what they are — have written to each other encouraging the destruction of data that had been lawfully requested under the Freedom of Information Act in the UK by scientists who wanted to check whether their global temperature record had been properly compiled. And that procurement of data destruction, as they are about to find out to their cost, is a criminal offense. They are not merely bad scientists — they are crooks. And crooks who have perpetrated their crimes at the expense of British and U.S. taxpayers.

There you have a representation of the two sides at the moment – the AGW side forced to admit the significance of the scientific misbehavior of some of the primary scientists behind the warming theory and the skeptical side, feeling vindicated but angry. Stay tuned for more developments, but don’t look for them in the US media. They seem to be preoccupied with much more important things – like the Obama’s first state dinner (in a tent, no less).

~McQ


Obama’s Asian Tour: Manufactured Failure Or Real Failure?

James Fallows, at the Atlantic, is pretty sure President Obama’s Asian tour was much more successful than the media gives him credit for, and, in fact, entitles his piece “Manufactured Failure“. His premise? That the media covered the trip much more like a campaign swing and thus missed its real and more subtle significance – and success. His proof? A couple of reader comments.

That’s not to say he may not have a bit of a point as it concerns the media coverage, but on the substantive side he needs to explain this if everything went so swimmingly but, apparently, unnoticed by the press:

Barack Obama looked tired on Thursday, as he stood in the Blue House in Seoul, the official residence of the South Korean president. He also seemed irritable and even slightly forlorn. The CNN cameras had already been set up. But then Obama decided not to play along, and not to answer the question he had already been asked several times on his trip: what did he plan to take home with him? Instead, he simply said “thank you, guys,” and disappeared. David Axelrod, senior advisor to the president, fielded the journalists’ questions in the hallway of the Blue House instead, telling them that the public’s expectations had been “too high.”

The master of spin’s spin is the public’s expectation’s had been “too high”? Wow – I guess Axelrod missed all that subtlety, nuance and success as well.

Der Speigel, however, did seem to have a pretty good bead on the actual results.  You remember how I said we should monitor the progress this “new” method of conduction foreign policy does in the world of realpolitik?  Here’s how:

Interests, not emotions, dominate the world of realpolitik. The Asia trip revealed the limits of Washington’s new foreign policy: Although Obama did not lose face in China and Japan, he did appear to have lost some of his initial stature.

In Tokyo, the new center-left government even pulled out of its participation in a mission which saw the Japanese navy refueling US warships in the Indian Ocean as part of the Afghanistan campaign. In Beijing, Obama failed to achieve any important concessions whatsoever. There will be no binding commitments from China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A revaluation of the Chinese currency, which is kept artificially weak, has been postponed. Sanctions against Iran? Not a chance. Nuclear disarmament? Not an issue for the Chinese.

The White House did not even stand up for itself when it came to the question of human rights in China. The president, who had said only a few days earlier that freedom of expression is a universal right, was coerced into attending a joint press conference with Chinese President Hu Jintao, at which questions were forbidden. Former US President George W. Bush had always managed to avoid such press conferences.

How bad is the growing lack of respect? You have a German magazine which was an Obama booster criticizing his foreign policy and comparing Obama to George Bush and finding Obama wanting.

Somewhere pigs are flying. What isn’t flying, however, is this “new” era in US foreign policy.

~McQ


When Do “Show Trials” Become A Circus?

I don’t think there’s any real doubt that Eric Holder’s decision to try the 9/11 defendants in New York’s federal court was as much about politics as justice. President Obama’s remarks about KSM’s guilt and the outcome of the trial left little doubt this is to be a show trial. And while I’m certainly no fan of Sen. Lindsey Graham, I thought he made Holder look foolish during the Senate hearings into the matter. It was clear, at least to me, that this decision was not well thought out. It was also clear that Holder had no idea of the possible ramifications of his decision. He continually, but ineffectually, avoided Graham’s points – once these terrorists are brought into the federal court system there are a completely different set of rules at work. And while they may indeed get convictions with these particular defendants, it most likely won’t be pretty and it sets a precedent (criminalizing this war) that we may regret in the future.

It is now emerging that even if the administration adamantly denies that these are show trials, the terrorists in question know exactly what they are and plan on using them to propagandize what they did and why:

Scott Fenstermaker, the lawyer for accused terrorist Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, said the men would not deny their role in the 2001 attacks but “would explain what happened and why they did it.”

[...]

Mohammed, Ali and the others will explain “their assessment of American foreign policy,” Fenstermaker said.

“Their assessment is negative,” he said.

Fenstermaker met with Ali last week at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. He has not spoken with the others but said the men have discussed the trial among themselves.

But don’t worry – the feds have it all under control. This will be a fair but orderly trial:

Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, said Sunday that while the men may attempt to use the trial to express their views, “we have full confidence in the ability of the courts and in particular the federal judge who may preside over the trial to ensure that the proceeding is conducted appropriately and with minimal disrupton, as federal courts have done in the past.”

Really? So how does Mr. Boyd and the Department of Justice plan on stopping a terrorist, to whom they just gave this right, from confronting his accusers in court and taking the stand to defend himself?

I mean if this is all about justice and not about, you know, a show?

~McQ


Obama To Offer Target Cuts In Greenhouse Gases At Copenhagen

World in recession?

Check.

Wheels coming off the science of AGW?

Check.

High unemployment continuing to rise?

Check.

2010 an election year?

Check.

Senate historically opposed to international treaties that hurt the economy?

Check.

Great – why not go to the UN’s Copenhagen treaty summit and offer some totally unrealistic and probably unachievable cuts in greenhouse gas emissions so we can feel like one of the cool kids?

President Barack Obama is considering setting a provisional target for cutting America’s huge greenhouse gas emissions, removing the greatest single obstacle to a landmark global agreement to fight climate change.

This is absolutely perfect for the talker-in-chief. Go. Promise. Bask. This is how you turn a useless conference which will most likely never accomplish a thing in reference to its primary goal into one all about the president.

Nigel Lawson points out the obvious:

But the meeting will still be declared a great success. Politicians do not like being associated with failure, so they will make sure that whatever emerges from Copenhagen is declared a success, and promise to meet again next year. This will at least give our political leaders the time to get themselves off the hook.

“Off the hook” in Obama’s case will be bringing a provisional treaty back with cuts he’s promised included and trying to get the Senate to ratify it. Kyoto went 98-0 against and is widely recognized – given the utter failure of other countries to even get close to their promised targets – as the smart move of the time.

Copenhagen is to go one step further. As PM Gordon Brown declared last week:

Copenhagen must “forge a new international agreement … [which] must contain the full range of commitments required: on emissions reductions by both developed and developing countries, on finance and on verification”.

Meaning? Meaning the idea is to stop developed countries from “outsourcing” their carbon emissions to “developing” countries. And to put those developing countries – in the middle of a global recession – on a restricted carbon diet.

It. Is. Not. Going. To. Happen.

Developing countries may agree the industrialized countries need to go on that diet, but they’re not going to hobble themselves unless massive transfer payments are involved. Massive. They are going to have to be satisfied that this sort of agreement causes them no harm economically. Good luck with that.

And, of course, with the lion’s share of the transfer payment bill and his promised cuts in hand, President Obama has to come back and convince the Senate, in a re-election year, that giving away even more money we don’t have and further crippling our economy for, at best, a marginal effect on the climate, is a good idea.

Cap-and-trade is on hold until at least the spring of ’10 in the Senate. Depending on what Obama does in Copenhagen (being loved means giving away the farm if necessary) it could be DOA when it is taken up again in the Senate. Senators, at the time, are going to be sticking their political fingers into the wind and assessing the popularity of an economy killing bill in the midst of a full bore scientific scandal about AGW’s science, continuing high unemployment and negative economic numbers. Most are not going to like what they see or hear – especially with November 2010 approaching for a third of them.

~McQ